Follow-up: Managing Windows windows

There’s a lot of great discussion from the window arranging post.  This really shows how important these details are to people.  Being able to arrange how apps are shown on screen is key for productivity because it impacts almost every task.  It’s also very personal – people want to be in control of their work environment and have it set up the way that feels right. 

One thing that should be clear is that it would not be possible for us to provide solutions to all the different ways people would like to work and all of the different tools and affordances people have suggested–I think everyone can see how overloaded we would be with options and UI absorbing all the suggestions!  At first this might seem to be a bit of a bummer, but one thing we loved was hearing about all the tools and utilities you use (and you write!) to make a Windows PC your PC.  Our goal is not to provide the solution to every conceivable way of potentially managing your desktop, but rather to provide an amazing way to manage your desktop along with customizations and personalizations plus a platform where people can develop tools that further enhance the desktop in unique and innovative ways.  And as we have talked about, even that is a huge challenge as we cannot provide infinite customization and hooks—that really isn’t technically possible.  But with this approach Windows provides a high degree (but not infinite) flexibility, developers provide additional tools, computer makers can differentiate their PCs, and you can tune the UI to be highly personalized and productive for the way you want to work using a combination of thos elements and your own preferences. 

One other thing worth noting is that a lot of the comments referred to oft discussed elements in Windows, such as stealing the focus of windows, the registry, or managing the z-order of windows—a great source of history and witticisms about Windows APIs is from Raymond Chen’s blog.  Raymond is a long-time developer on the Windows team and author of Old New Thing, The: Practical Development Throughout the Evolution of Windows.  This is also a good source to read where the boundaries are between what Windows does and what developers of applications can choose to be responsible for doing (and what they are capable of customizing).

With that intro, Dave wanted to follow up with some additional insights the team has taken away from the discussion.  –Steven

We saw several pieces of feedback popping up consistently throughout the comments.  Paraphrasing the feedback (more details below), it sounds like there’s strong sentiment on these points:

  • The size of windows matters, but wasting time resizing windows is annoying.

  • Just let me decide where the windows go – I know best where my windows belong.

  • Dragging files around is cumbersome because the target window (or desktop) is often buried.

  • Desire for better ways to peek at the running windows in order to find what we’re trying to switch to.

  • Want a predictable way to make the window fit the content (not necessarily maximized).

  • Want to keep my personalized glass color, even when a window is maximized.

For each of these needs, there’s a lot of great discussion around possible solutions – both features from other products, and totally novel approaches.  It’s clear from these comments that there’s a desire for improvement, and that you’ve been thinking about this area long enough to have come up with some fairly detailed recommendations!  Below are a excerpts from some of the conversations ongoing in the comments.

Put the windows where I want them

It’s super interesting to see people discussing the existing features, and where they work or don’t work.

For example, @d_e is a fan of the existing tiling options in the taskbar:

Arranging windows in a split-window fashion is actually quite easy: While pressing CTRL select multiple windows in the taskbar. Then right-click them and select one of the tiling options…

But that approach doesn’t quite meet the goal for @Xepol:

As for the window reorder buttons on the taskbar -> I’ve known they were there since Win95, but I never use them.  They never do what I want.  If they even get close to the right layout, its the wrong window order.  Since I have to drag stuff around anyways, its just easier to get exactly what I want the first time.

@Aengeln suggests taking the basic idea of tiled windows to the next level in order to make them really useful:

A very useful feature would be the ability to split the deskotop into separate portions, especially on larger screens.  For example, I might want to maximize my Messenger window to a small part on the right hand side of the desktop and still have the ability to maximize other windows into the remaing space. Non-maximized windows would be able to float across both (all) parts of the desktop.

It sounds like there’s agreement that optimizing the screen space for more than one window would be super useful, if it would only let you stay in control of where windows ended up, and was easy and quick to use every day.  The current tiling features in the taskbar give hints at how this could be valuable, but aren’t quite fast and easy enough to be habit forming.

Open at the right size

We saw a lot of comments on the “default size” of windows, and questions about how that’s decided.  Applications get to choose what size they open at, and generally use whichever size they were at the last time they were closed (or they can choose not to honor those settings).  One of the cases that can trip people up is when IE opens a small window (websites will do this sometimes), because once you close it that will be the new “last size”. 

@magicalclick suggested a solution:

I wish I have one more caption button, FIXED SIZE. Actually it is a checkbox. When I check the box, it will save the window state for this application. After that, I can resize/move around. When I close window, it will not save the later changes.

@steven_sinofsky offered this advanced user tip that you can use to start being more click-efficient right away:

@magicalclick I dislike when that one happens!  Rather than add another button or space to click, I do the same thing in one click with a “power user” trick which is when you see the small window open don’t close it until you first open up another copy of the application with the “normal” window size.  Then close the small one and then the normal one. 

Of course this is a pain and close to impossible for anyone to find, but likely a better solution than adding a fourth UI affordance on the title bar.


Finding the right window

The word being used is “Expose”:

@Joey_j: Windows needs an Exposé-like feature. I want to see all of my windows at once.

@Dan.F: one word – expose.  copy it.

@GRiNSER : Expose has its own set of drawbacks: Like having 30 windows on a macbook pro 1400×1050 screen is really not that helpful. Though its way more helpful than Crap Flip 3D. Expose would be even more useful with keyboard window search…

Regardless of the name, there’s a desire to visually find the window you’re looking for.  Something more random-access than the timeline approach of Alt-Tab or Flip-3d, and something that lets you pick the window visually from a set of thumbnails.  This is very useful for switching when there are a lot of windows open – but some current approaches don’t scale well and it is likely scaling will become an even more difficult problem as people run even more programs.

Dragging files

There were several comments (and several different suggestions) on making it easier to drag between windows:

@Manicmarc:  I would love to see something like Mac OS’s Springloaded folders. Drag something over a folder and hover, it pops up, drag over to the next folder, drop it.

@Juan Antonio: It would be useful that when I´m dragging an object I could to open a list or thumbnail of the windows ( maybe a right- click )to select what window use to drop the object.

On this topic, I loved @Kosher’s comment on the difference between being able to do something, and it feeling right.

The UI could be enhanced quite a bit to make it much easier to do things. It’s not just about how easy it is but it’s also about how smoothly the user transitions between common UI workflows and tasks.  This is a bit like explaining the difference between a Ferrari and a Toyota to someone that has never driven a Ferrari though, so I don’t know if it will ever happen.

In designing Windows 7, we’ve really been taking the spirit of this comment to heart.  I can’t wait to hear what car Windows 7 is compared to once it’s available for a test drive.

– Dave

Comments (121)

  1. kchaits123 says:

    This all is fine, but I cannot shake the feeling that it’s a little late for this sort of thing.

    Isn’t "Engineering" Windows 7 an anachronism, when the feature set is (most likely) finalized ages ago, the implementations done, and testing-fixing the stuff is (most likely!) going on?

    Could someone please shade some light on this?

    Are the discussions on this blog actually going to lead you to modify Windows 7?

    I find it hard to believe.

    Some tweaks maybe, but not major rewrites.

    Don’t get me wrong.

    I have huge expectations from 7 and I believe that it’ll be a great update, solely because Steven Sinofsky is the man in charge!

    Office is THE thing that has NO competitor. You could say that there are better OSs around, but there’s nothing that even comes close to Office.

    You guys have certainly put a lot of thought into making this Windows, and it looks like you have had your priorities set right.


    With all that said, isn’t this blog an attempt to nudge us in "proper" direction? To give us a background on changes, and why they are done and the complexities involved and all that?

  2. gkeramidas says:

    just bring back the items, that  i mentioned, that were removed or made harder to get to in vista than they were in xp.

    that should be your first goal.

  3. Mike Mol says:

    While I develop software under Win32 at work using XP and Vista, at home I use Linux.  The biggest difference for me is that at home, I can use wmii, a tiling window manager.

    Wmii manages windows by dividing each screen into columns, and then subdividing the columns into rows.  The first program run fills the primary screen.  Any subsequent window subdivides the currently-selected column into rows.  One set of keyboard shortcuts may be used to move a window between adjacent columns, into a newly-created column, to a different physical screen, or into invisible screen pages.  A different set of keyboard shortcuts may be used to shift focus between windows and physical screens, and to flip an invisible screen page to the foreground.

    It took some getting used to, but I’ve grown sufficiently attached to it that I’ve been considering writing my own tiling window manager for Windows.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anybody has really done this since the late 90s, and I expect that was for the Win95/98/ME lineage.

  4. Ambition says:

    On an Alt+Tab replacement, holding down a key to make all windows transparent except the active window would be cool. Better than Flip 3D because you can see all the windows you’ve got open.

    Of course, the problem with this is when you get a tonne of windows sitting on top of each other. Then it just looks ugly.

  5. kanno41 says:

    The concept of a "window search" sounds like it may be a useful way to switch through a large number of windows by title just as the search on the start menu.

    I never knew I could select multiple windows in the taskbar and tile/stack them!  It would never be clear that that functionality is available if you didn’t know about it.  Something just important as functionality and usability is for the people to know that it exists.

  6. says:

    I’ve used a number of Expose implementations, and they don’t help me a bit. Past a certain number of windows, it isn’t any better than the alt+tab or taskbar thumbnails.

    Perhaps a good solution will balance between giving an overall view for when a small number of windows are present, and something that will work for large numbers of windows. Maybe something that involves filtering of some kind by type, application, keyword, arbitrary user picks, etc. Text labels might not be sexy, but they would be useful in identifying applications. Some sort of hover-zoom, or deepzoom kind of deal? Eh, I’m not sure that would work, I’m just kind of brain dumping all over this comment.

    It would be nice in a multi-monitor scenario to have the previews only appear on the monitor that they are currently assigned to. That would provide more room for larger thumbnails, and a better logical seperation.

  7. nikhiljain says:

    It will be more user friendly , if you implement feature like in Mac osx (Spaces). Through which user can easily classify their task in diff spaces and easily switch-over to one-anonther.

    I also like a feature that when user mouse-hover on icon of audio, video file a short clip should to play without actually opens up the application associated with them.

    Give the Live Preview of each application running on and ability to maintain their state for future.

    Give us some more improvement in the Grouping up of application in taskbar.

  8. ThomThom says:

    A small comment on the whole windows stealing focus: This is one of the things that really drive me nuts. Windows that suddenly steals the focus. Either they pop up right before I click and I accidentally click on one of the controls in the window that appear with unwanted effects. Or taking the focus away when I’m typing interrupting the work flow.

    When multitasking with the computer I want to decide myself what window I want to work with. I can’t stand programs that think it is the most important thing on my screen and demand my immediate attention.

    Before XP, setting the Flash Taskbar setting worked rather fine. All though some applications had a  tendency to reset this. But in Vista that setting seem to have no effect at all. Windows popup everywhere yelling at me. Go away!

    So I plead for a more robust control of window focus stealing in  Windows 7. For the love of my sanity.

  9. alamfour says:

    @nikhiljain Windows Vista already contains a live preview feature. When you open an Explorer window such as Documents or Music or Pictures or any folder infact there is an option for a live preview of the document or file without opening it. When in the folder click on the ORGANISE tab, go down to the layout option and select the PREVIEW PANE option this gives you the live preview that you are asking for. In reality MAC OSX copied their live preview from Vista because it was long announced before LEOPARD was realesd or even was under development. But because of the 2004 longhorn reset Vista was not realesed until 2006/2007 thus OSX was first to market with that feature.

  10. lyesmith says:

    If we are here. Everything should have keyboard shortcut. And that shortcut should be displayed on the right side the context menus. Also in the help file. All the time.

    Switching on and off preview plane with shortcuts is important. Most of the time it is annoying but when you need it it takes 3 click to get it.

    Preview plane is not very useful in Vista. The location of the preview plane has to be configurable. Should be possible to put to the bottom or top  or to a separate window. In addition to the shortcuts there should be visual toggle buttons (1 click way) to show and hide preview and navigation plane.

    Also there is a need to manage the file selection and clipboard management better. Someone had the idea for a "clipboard plane" before. A place where you can drag and drop files and what represents the clipboard. I found the idea very useful. Also shortcuts for adding and removing files to the clipboard. (Ctrl+C not adds files but resets the clipboard)

    In general in windows it is a mayor drawback that the user has to use the mouse all the time. EVERYTHING should accessible via shortcuts.

    Just a quick question. How can you rename a file without touching the mouse?

  11. ion says:

    About document previews: I think there should be a floating preview thingy when the user hovers the mouse over an item like in Windows Photo Gallery. I think Quicklook in Mac OS X is broken because it acts as a preview application. If the user hits Space to preview a document then Quicklook window opens and the user can’t stand using it as a self-contained application. For instance it’s too easy to use Quicklook instead of iTunes to listen to music and when the user switches to another window then Quicklook stops playing. Plus Quicklook is not fast enough.

    About Exposé: In fact it’s not copying because Microsoft Research worked on a project called Task Gallery way before Mac OS X.

    They made some demos in 1998:

    About drag&drop: It’s uncomfortable to drag an item onto the taskbar and wait for the window to get focus then continue dragging the item onto the window and drop it. The taskbar and the alt+tab and Flip 3D switchers should be able to accept drag&drops without giving focus to the window.

    There’s another annoyance in Windows that it easily forgets window placements. When the user’s desktop is full with windows and wants to drag and item from the desktop then all windows have to be minimized  (as Raymond Chen described on his blog) with Win+D (show desktop) or Win+M (minimize all). If the user clicking on any window then it’s not possible to restore all windows to their original state. In my opinion the windows shouldn’t change at all when the user wants to switch to the desktop. Maybe this could be borrowed from Exposé (show desktop with F12).

  12. domenico says:

    Exposè not work fine!

    the management of the desktop OS X from Dock and ‘illogical and irrational, for me and ‘irritating that if I have two or more’ open windows of the same application must go to attempts to find what I try, or should know in advance if what I try and ‘minimized or not .

    Windows Vista in this and ‘simple, clean, rational and consistent.

  13. Vistaline says:

    @ kchaits123

    I’d imagine there’s plenty of time for them to add features into W7, whether or not they are any good is the question.

    @ Mike Mol

    >> It took some getting used to, but I’ve grown sufficiently attached to it that I’ve been considering writing my own tiling window manager for Windows.

    Do it. : )

    I agree 100% about keyboard shortcuts for panes. The lack of shortcuts is the reason I’ve never used any of them, that and the fact that the preview pane generally sucks. It doesn’t work with most of my document formats (odt, ods, doc, xls), most of my video files (avi), doesn’t even have an option to preview most of my audio library (mp3), and, unless you make/add a preview handler, won’t handle many, many other file formats which can be quite common (psd, for example). On top of all that, as you said, lyesmith, the location is not ideal for all file types. Users should be able to undock the pane and place it on the any other side of their explorer window. Being able to place it on the top edge would be a nice way of replicating XP’s thumbnail strip while keeping Vista’s style.

    The details pane doesn’t report selection size when a folder is within the selection, which makes it slightly less useful as well. The status bar, however, does not have this behavior. Having both up at the same time is a waste of scene real estate as the status bar has one function which isn’t replicated by the Details pane.

    And does anyone else think that more customization options in W7 will only compound the issue that XP and Vista had with remembering folder settings? It’s only going to get worse when it takes you 20~30 seconds to re-configure you folder exactly the way you want it, assuming it doesn’t match any of your presets (All Items, Documents, etc…). While I enjoy this blog, the more I think and hear about Windows XP, Vista, and W7, the less I like them.

    …and F2, silly. 🙂

  14. nikhiljain says:

    Their should be a Folder structure preview of their sub-folder by just a mouse-hover on that folder in a Gridview Format. Its really help full for user to see the content within folder without acctualy opens it up..

  15. nExoR says:

    next thing about windows sizes is resolution change. it’s extremally annoying for the ones which uses the projector. after changing the resolution all window sizes are made small to fit it. then you need to resize all the window to your size… more over – windows sometimes forgets that you disconnected the device and changes resoultion for some test or something… grrr

    and the solution is so simple: keep the window sizes as percentage. layouts are well known in java and .net languages – so it’s dynamic and auto-adjustable for the screen size. y don’t give such a possibilty for system windows?

    another idea is to keep few window sizes so each resolution has it parameter.

    …at last the easies way would be some option to disable auto-window-resize – easy and effective.

  16. Aberforth says:

    there used to be a feature (in betas) where you could rotate windows 360° and dock them;I hope you put the dock feature on the desktop like the one in visual studio.

  17. mikejng says:

    I’m one of the many who has complained about focus stealing.

    In this follow-up article you make an oblique reference to Raymond Chen’s blog and application responsibilities in the same breath as focus-stealing, from which I get the idea, even without reading back issues of Raymond Chen’s excellent blog, that you believe focus-stealing is the responsibility of apps and not Windows.

    However this doesn’t mean you guys can’t do anything about it.  You are the focal point for the overall user experience so you can do a lot about focus stealing, in the same way you’ve worked towards a consistent user experience in other areas.  Some suggestions:

    – Make a strong statement in the UI guide that focus stealing is bad unless WW III is about to break out and you are serious about it.

    – Change Microsoft internal development guidelines to look for poor focus stealing and other non-UI-experience-conformant apps, just like you now review all apps for security (most of the software I use that does focus stealing is Microsoft software – for example IE).

    – Change the Windows 7 logo guidelines so an app can’t get the logo if it’s caught doing focus stealing.

    – If necessary, change the Windows API so certain calls from bad apps to jump their windows to the foreground are ignored (ie a Windows 7 app-specific compatibility setting).

    I know you guys love to focus on coding up cool new features, but a big reason people feel good or bad about an OS release is how predictable the UI is.  Windows XP was very consistent and people liked it for that reason at a subconcious level – I give the XP UI team a lot of credit.  Now in Vista with the top menus gone, it’s really hard to figure out how to do something sometimes – Organize menu?  Right click?  Hold down a key to make the legacy menus come back?  There are important features hidden in all those places.  I think Vista makes people feel dumb because they can never remember how to find something even after they’ve spent time working with Vista.

    So this is a pitch for you to take the somewhat squishy subject of UI consistency and predictability seriously.  Your users will be a lot happier.  And if you can somewhat improve focus stealing while you are at it, that would be great too!

  18. nstraub says:

    Hi again!

    I don’t know if this has been said before but it would be really nice to incorporate shading for winodws (take a look at WinRoll – – I use it but under Windows 2008 and Vista it’s somewhat broken, ’cause some windows don’t shade preperly, mostly Windows Explorer). I’m guessing it wouldn’t be that difficult.

    Best regards!

  19. pocketpower says:


    Got an adea about icon management on windows desktop. The general opinion is that Desktop cleanup wizard is bad and annoyng and it should be disabled ASAP.

    I propse another solution to a problem of having old icons on the desktop: Why not fade them so that they become semi-transparent or some other way show their irrelevance to the user. This way a user can decide if that icon must remain on the desktop or not. Even more, the user will clearly see other 5-6 icons that are regularly used.

    I believe that even users who have some 30-40 icons on the desktop, only 5-6 are used daily. It would be excellent for them if the icons would fade and it is easier for them to find those used icons more easily.

    The idea of moving those unused icons to another folder is quite scary. I don’t like if computer shifts mu stuff around. But marking icons as unused is a nice and polite way to notify me about the low usage of that particular icon.

  20. pocketpower says:

    Another input idea about windows placement. Current Windows stacks new windows on top of older windows but if for example there is on explrer window open and user opens another and if there is room to place new window so that it does not cover existing window, then it should be done so.

    This way the user has full access to old window as well as a new window without moving them around.

    It might be complex to work the algorithm out as such a simple solution would work on ly on clean desktop, but something along the lines of improved usage of screen estate on windows placement should be doable.

  21. domenico says:


    Thx for Gif from Microsoft Research

    PS. you have see a video Microsoft  Directions and Culture ?

    See the video and Stop  1:37 min.

    See Folder Animation 😉

    Microsoft Research is GREAT!

  22. ITP says:

    The MS research already has some ideas how to make the window management and taskbar better.. GroupBar

    I really hope that at least SOME of these features will be in W7.

  23. manicmarc says:

    I’m hoping it will be compared to a Mercedes. Beautiful design, but unlike a Ferrari (*cough* Mac) practical for day to day use by the masses.

    And I speak as a PC user who switched to Mac, and then switched back 2 years later.

  24. simmans says:


    That’s a good idea to change the task bar but instead of "study and choose" the best bar prototype, they better pet them all in Windows.

    More possibilities = more liberty

  25. nExoR says:

    …and one more. isn’t customization important? so please explain to me, y there is no way to customize mmc snapins look in vista/w2k8? one could open snapin in author mode, set the view and save it. in vista – someone decided that it is too dangerous and msc files are system protected! LOL!

    the only workaroud is to create your own msc files, put it in some directory and put it’s path to %path% variable. but why customisation is treated as denger?

  26. simmans says:

    Positioning, managing, create effect, create differents taskbars, isn’t it something everybody must be able to do? Customization is a great idea for common users because it’s not too much complex, but for ones that want to go further, like me, we want to code our bars, our window designs and effects, and offer them to everyone who want to change the apparence of Windows.

    More possibilities = more liberty : Windows 98 was great because there was plenty of themes and screensaver, there was a lot of possibilities for everyone. That’s a base idea.

    Why imposing something that someone don’t like? It’s better to give possibility to change it. That will be a card that Windows 7 team must use because everybody like liberty, to have more possibilities, to be able to control what they see. And if they don’t like possibilities they have, there is somebody that can create another one.

    More possibilities = more liberty

  27. Ronnievdl says:

    I have a tip about switching windows, and I signed in just to post this.

    The live window previews in the taskbar is a great addition, but it still doesn’t feel like I’m in complete control, like I’m not having a complete overview of all opened windows.

    What about, instead of the previews, the actual window temporarily shows up on top of all other windows?

    Also, the taskbar grouping introduced in Windows XP is useful, but if there are many open windows in one group, it becomes rather annoying.

    Wouldn’t it be better if you click on a group, all windows of that group appear side to side, something like what I said about the live window previews?

    When you click one of the windows, the selected window will become active, and all other windows will go back to their original state.

  28. Vistaline says:

    >>there used to be a feature (in betas) where you could rotate windows 360° and dock them…

    If I’m following you correctly, this is entirely useless.

    …The general opinion is that Desktop cleanup wizard is bad and annoyng and it should be disabled ASAP.

    >> I don’t think its in Vista. I’ve been running Vista for almost ten months now and have never seen it. Of course, my desktop is kinda clean…

    >>I propse another solution to a problem of having old icons on the desktop: Why not fade them…

    Microsoft should continue to leave peoples’ desktops alone. People don’t need Microsoft butting their heads into their computers to tell them their desktop is too cluttered.

    >>I’m hoping it will be compared to a Mercedes. Beautiful design, but unlike a Ferrari (*cough* Mac) practical for day to day use by the masses.

    Macs aren’t practical for day-to-day use? I have a VFX class these days that is run in a room filled exclusively with Mac computers, so I’ve been getting some good exposure to them, and I disagree with that statement entirely. They’re just as usable, if not more usable, than any version of Windows for the general computing. OSX for daily computing is leagues faster than Vista and provides just as sleek an interface. One that’s slightly more understandable in places, too.

    People noting othat customization = good are 100% correct. I’m hoping W7 is nothing like Vista in this respect. In the M3 screenshot of the Personalization menu there is a link to "Get more themes online," whether or not that is removed at launch I don’t know but, at least for now, it’s an indicator MS has the idea to make W7 more customizable than Vista. It could always be like XP’s themes though… nly MS made themes unless you patch/modify your install and resort to 3rd parties. I believe they online released two themes for XP, Media Center and Zune.

  29. L33tMasta says:

    Will you guys be supporting custom themes this time around? I know I can get them on Vista by installing a modified uxtheme.dll but will Windows 7 support the option for people to create and distribute Windows 7 themes through maybe a Microsoft ran and supported website like how the current Gadget site is?I think it has to deal a large amount with the customization and personalization of your workspace if you can not only change the UI options as you like but change the look and theme of the UI as well. You’re making a lot of very important points about how you won’t be able to change the UI options to suit everyone but I think personally that everyone would benefit from a theme scheme as i suggested above. not only does it allow you to moniter the quality of themes and their contents but it gives us peace of mind when installing themes due to your processing of the content.  

  30. says:


    i like the points the user who are listet in this post…but i have some more points…

    1. The LivePreview should be open and close by filetype…a sample: if i am selected a mp3 File…the  LivePreview Panel will slide in from the side(maybe with an animation 😉 but if i am going to a folder the LivePreview Panel will disapear…so i dont need to enable or disable the Panel self.

    2. In Vista(i like Vista but the are some problems) i loose a lot of times the settings i made in my folders…a sample: I open Computer in the Explorer…normaly i habe Tiles + Group by Type…but sometimes the drives are not in groups and i have details and not please fix that…Windows should not decide how the folders need to look…its something the User will do.

    3. App Switching…put away Flip 3D and do something in like the old Alt+Tab but improve that and add search if i have many apps open.

    Thats all…i have seen some Screenshots from the M3 and i looks great for a go on and show us the best Windows(OS) we ever seen…

  31. soukyuu says:

    About dropping files on the desktop covered by other windows, why not make it like this: when the user drags the file(s) to a side of the screen and hovers there for a configurable period of time (say, 1 sec), all windows get minimized and the user can drop his/her files on the desktop.

    Or, make a hide-able panel that has the thumbnails of currently open windows on it, including the desktop. When there are too many windows to show on the panel, it becomes scrollable, so the user can hover the files over a thumbnail and drop them into it.

    About the explorer itself: it happened to me many times already – i open a folder, set the view, leave it, come back and it resets itself to one of the pre-defined views.

    Also, when a picture/mp3 picture tag changes, the folder will still show the old version until you leave and re-open the folder, F5 suprisingly doesn’t do anything.

    Oh and another one, if you have a long filename that barely fits into the default explorer window size, there will be no scrollbar. Now, if you rename the file and leave the length the same, explorer sometimes changes to the imaginary 2nd column of the folder – w/o displaying the scrollbar, so all you see is the end of the long filename. Fixes itself after re-opening the folder.

    Overall the explorer seems kinda unfinished, even though it should have been. It’s the basic PC browsing tool after all…

    One important point about the taskbar; In Vista, you can’t display the icon for power options if you are running Vista on a normal PC. This means every time you want to change your power options, you have to go to the control panel/type it in the startmenu.

    I think it should be possible to activate that icon on a normal PC too, less hassle to activate the power plan you need atm and saves the user money.

  32. TedHoward says:

    I’ll stop after this comment.

    I glanced at Raymond Chen’s blog. It seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the user experience. It talks only about function calls and legacy. I certainly hope that you don’t have engineers designing Windows 7.

    1. Blaming application authors is not a mitigation for the bug. You can blame driver authors all you want for Vista and 64-bit problems, but no amount of blame will help Vista or 64-bit OS’es have more drivers. The OS should be able to control this issue.

    2. Blaming legacy is a cop-out. I fully understand the legacy issues of Windows and the pain involved. But just like blaming ISV’s, it’s not a solution or even a mitigation.

    3. You discuss above that Windows is a platform that people can extend to solve their window management issues. I don’t think I can control focus theft.

    4. Keyboard focus and foreground are system-wide transient settings. As such, they should be considered to be a part of the OS. If I am running an application in Windows Vista, I expect that if that application is going to alter a system-wide setting or part of the OS, it will request elevated permissions. Can my app change display settings or swap the left and right mouse buttons without UAC? These focus-related OS settings were somehow made to be exceptions to UAC.

    5. No one in Windows ever seems to accept that this is a problem. I’m not referring to these blog entries. I’m referring to many bugs and conversations I’ve had over recent years. No one seems to understand that my lack of trust for Windows is a valid concern.

    That’s all on this topic. #4 sums up my opinion of how Windows should properly handle focus. #5 sums up my opinion of the status of this issue.

  33. screwballl says:

    Sorry but these blogs are nothing more than an advertising ploy (see "Windows Mojave" ads). Windows 7 will be nothing more than a crap filled Vista update.. they will use these blogs as a "we listened to you and made Windows 7 better, look at our msdn blogs."

    You can polish a turd, but it is still crap and still stinks. Vista is crap, polishing it into Windows 7 does not take the status of crap away from it.

    The Microsoft sales team knows it. Why would there be a full 40% of people switching back to XP? Because another 40% doesn’t know you can switch back (aka UPGRADE to XP).

    If the Microsoft team really listened, they would have started fresh and used the WinFS and MinWin as the basis for this new OS, NOT Vista or its kernel.

  34. x.iso says:

    I think sidebar should have more usability like minimize window tiles (with stacksgroups) to it instead of taskbar, while windows that floating on desktop are as usual available in taskbar. Also, there should be settings like adjusting size of tiles, number of visible tiles and size of tile that in focus.

    here an example sketch:

    Hope you can imagine how tiles should be animated, while navigating trough stacks with hovering cursor (or touch flicks, for touch-screens)

  35. divinglog says:

    One thing I don’t like in Vista is, when I click the "Show Desktop" icon in the quicklaunch bar or switch to desktop via Flip 3D, the Vista Sidebar get’s hidden. I have to click onto one window in the taskbar to show the sidebar again. The sidebar should always be visible when I switch to the desktop.

    And please include a "Save Icons Positions" function for the desktop. Whenever I update my graphic card driver the screen resolution get’s very low during the setup and afterwards all my icons are misplaced. Or when a game crashed this can happen. Such a restore icons function is missing since Windows 95 and it’s not hard to implement.

  36. lukaso says:

    One feature that I use tremendously (well, add-on) is the moving of a window from one monitor to another. All the discussions about having multiple windows resized at once related to that exactly. I’m constantly trying to have two windows open at once and then working between them. For me this being added to the core OS in an easy to use way (didn’t know about the CTRL-taskbar trick until today) is massively useful.

  37. says:

    I strongly disagree with the requests for an expose-like feature. In my opinion, aside from the iPod (which Microsoft topped with the Zune), Apple has not released a single decent UI in the past 10 years or so.

    The Dock is annoying, pops up when you don’t need it and are trying to mouse to something else, it’s impossible to tell what programs are actually running and what programs just have shortcuts, and in general managin what’s open and closed is a nightmare; expose is very pretty and works wonderfully, assuming you have ~3 applications open: the instant you get over 6 or 7 it suddenly gets really hard to find what you’re looking for; the central menu is annoying at best; and the fact that in 2008 there still isn’t a central place to go for all your programs is just obscene.

    I’d have to say that the current alt+tab implementation (with Aero enabled) is the most logical, however I do have some suggestions to offer:

    1) Allow me to drag around the order of applications and lock it down (I know it’s dependent on the order of which you focused-windowed it last, but it’s not very convenient to have to focus windows in a particular order just to get alt-tab orders sorted out)

    2) Create an option to group by program type in the alt+tab: I often have 4-5 instances of Word open; it makes a lot more sense if they’re all one after another as opposed to all over the place.

    3) Zoom in on the highlighted application in alt+tab: it’s really hard to tell Word documents apart. If you have a bunch of them with just a bunch of text and no heading it gets to be nigh-impossible without at least being able to see the shapes of the paragraphs

    4) Not really task-managing, but make Windows Explorer tabbed. It’s ridiculous that I often have 10 windows open and 4 of them are explorer.

  38. anonymuos says:

    MS is not aware of where and what the its OS is lacking. Just search for example: to get a glimpse of the countless issues users are having with the most minor "features".

    You can find many such issues at aerotaskforce and "Features removed from Windows Vista".

  39. manicmarc says:

    Those of you asking for more customisation read some of Raymond’s Blog. Customisation creates complexity, which creates havoc.

    The Office team learnt this. Support Desks were full of people phoning up because they’d inadvertently hidden the "Standard" toolbar.

    The more you let people change Windows the harder it becomes to support and maintain as a software process.

    Microsoft are very good at bending over backwards to people who don’t like change. You can make Vista look 90% like Windows 95 if you really want to. With every bit of customisation you add, this is something people will want to customise in future versions of Windows. take dragging toolbars on to the desktop. I only ever did this once and then realised how useless it was. Other people loved it. It’s gone from Vista and now people are complaining.

    Someone posted a comment on the previous post saying they wanted to have Explorer do some fancy batch renaming. Again see Raymond’s blog []. The gist of it is that it’s such a specific need, and could be so easily misinterpreted by a novid, that that sort is best left to ISVs.

    It’s a thin line, where does the operating system end.

    For some it should manage the hardware and provide file management only. Ask a Fedora users and they’ll say it should have an Office Suite, web server and mail relay as standard.

    from what I have heard Windows 7 will include less non-core OS stuff, and leave all that to Windows Live.

    This, I think is great news. I would much rather the developers who are assigned to Windows are concentrating fully on Windows’ core applets, powershell, explorer,  the UI etc than on Photo Gallery and Movie Maker software.

  40. magicalclick says:


    That left GroupBar is exactly what I wanted in taskbar. MS already has the prototype. I hate it when they drop it.

  41. Marcosm64 says:

    About finding the right window: One of the things I love the most about Windows Vista is the Start Menu feature where you can hit the windows button and immediately type the program you want. Maybe some shortcut that would pop up a list of open windows and filter them out as you type would work too.

  42. simmans says:

    What about coloring tasks on the taskbar. You need to recognize fast enough a task, just change the color and it’s more visible.

  43. FreakyT says:

    I definitely agree that I’d like to see the "spring loaded" feature of Exposé included in Windows.  (Where you can drag a file to the window thumbnail, and wait or press space to switch to that window.)

    On another note, a visual issue I’ve noticed is that, right now, you’re allowed to move windows past the top of the screen, but they jump right back down immediately afterward.  I’d like to see windows blocked from going too high in the first place.

    Finally, I’d like to see the "Show Desktop" button work a but more smoothly.  It’d be nice if it wouldn’t hide everything (the fact that the sidebar disappears is annoying) and had some special animation (like Exposé’s "show desktop" function) to indicate that the programs weren’t all being minimized, but were just being cleared away temporarily.)

  44. chakkaradeep says:

    Would be really nice if Windows 7 includes the Instant Viewer application. I am not sure why this is not given much importance and people rarely get to know unless they purchase Microsoft Hardware.

    [I also think it shouldnt be hard to *improve* the Instant Viewer a bit to fit the Windows 7 theme :)]

  45. mogi says:

    I wish that someone did a 100% exact copy of GNOME (or KDE) workspaces. I’ve tried a dozen virtual screen apps for windows and they all suck in some way.

  46. chakkaradeep says:

    @mogi I find KDE to be bloated while Gnome seems to be organised, but that doesn’t mean Windows should copy from them 🙂

  47. danwdoo says:

    I have a laptop which I sometimes use with multiple monitors. I often run into a problem where I have an application on the external monitor and then close windows. I later restart without the external monitor connected but when I start some apps, they wind up off the screen and I can’t easily get them to appear on my laptop screen. Windows needs to be smart enough to detect when this situation occurs and force windows to not open off screen when not using multiple monitors even if it was the last position the app remembered.

  48. Ravewulf says:

    I always like to have my explorers open at 7 across by 3 down large tiles. This some times resents though, even though I make sure to close all of them at that size. Another thing that doesn’t remember it’s state correctly is when choosing the view and type of folder. My music folders keep being reset to picture and video folders and visa versa. Sometimes folder views of two folders in completely different areas become linked. For example if I change a specific folder under pictures to pictures and videos it changes a specific folder on my desktop to the same view state. When I go to change the one on my desktop the pictures folder then mirrors the one on the desktop.

  49. hermrr says:

    Glad to hear that people are bringing up the issue of applications forcefully taking the focus away from the selected window, and that the Windows 7 team is (hopefully) listening. Let me just add myself to the list of people who think that that’s anoying & it should be fixed.

    It is most annoying when I’m typing up something and all of a sudden some window pops up asking me something and since I was in the middle of typing, I accidentally hit some shortcut key that I didn’t mean to press. GRRR!!!

  50. Asesh says:

    Please make Windows 7 the OS X killer. Let it better than OS X in every aspect.

  51. Asesh says:

    There should be more basic themes for Windows 7. Windows Vista’s basic theme looks so sick. Aero is awesome but would be better if Windows 7 will provide more basic themes. Thanks

  52. caleb.vear says:

    One of the things I would like to see is that when I use the task bar to put two windows side by side it would be nice if I could resize both of them at once by clicking and dragging their common edge.  For example I often have say a spread sheet and a document open at once (my screen is 1920 X 1200) and it would be nice if I could easily give the spread sheet more of the space as it is wider than the document needs to be on the screen.

  53. mogi says:

    @chakkaradeep: I did not mean the whole environment of course :). I meant the good old workspaces feature only:

    It’s really simple. You can create new workspaces, see the status in the panel, drag windows from one to another workspace, switch with a nice default alt+left/right arrow and that’s it basically.

    So far, no one has combined these three features into one product for windows:

    1. a view in the taskbar

    2. easy dragging

    3. works without annoyances (some windows do not get restored properly sometimes, instant messaging windows open on wrong workspace, etc.)

    Maybe it’s not possible to fully fix the third point, because apps are not aware of workspaces?

  54. domenico says:

    Mega quote Asesh

    even if we already VISTA is Killer 100% OSX, have done much fud initially when there were problems with drivers , The fud was fueled by microblog and incompetent journalists who in the past have dealt only with agriculture

  55. says:


    let us make groups of windows…a sample…i put ie and VS 2008 togehter to 1 windows and it will show up as 1 programm on the taskbar…that will help o organice programms who should work together very easy…

  56. says:

    Personally my biggest gripe when it comes to managing my windows is similar to one already mentioned. I want my windows to open on particular screens. If I open and close a program on a screen it will usually keep opening there until the next update, restart or other annoying event. Sure, games open on the screen set as primary, but I might want word to always open on one screen, excel on another and (if I have 3 screens) firefox on a third.

    My second gripe at the moment is losing focus of windows in the middle of tasks. The other day I came within a hair’s breadth of throwing my computer to the tip (figuratively speaking) because of processes cutting in on each other. A simple 15min task took 30min and 2 relaxation CDs to complete. If programmers can’t get it right (I know I don’t) then please let the OS have some more control over window focus priorities.

  57. Bjartr says:

    From what I’ve read in the comments and from these posts is that there are just too many cases to handle, even when delegating UI variations to configuration options! The solution I see is to allow users to change their window manager. There are already many, many WMs for linux, each catering to its own niche and many of them have been mentioned in this thread. Why not expose hooks for a replacement WM to partially or completely override the default? The possibility of this sort of modular extensibility is the reason I’ve been dieing to hear more about the MinWin kernel, whose implementation as I understand it could allow such cutomization.

  58. Jalf says:

    "let us make groups of windows…a sample…i put ie and VS 2008 togehter to 1 windows and it will show up as 1 programm on the taskbar…that will help o organice programms who should work together very easy…"

    I think that’s a good point, and one which reflects back to the mention of virtual desktops in the previous posts. You almost always have some kind of grouping of your windows in the first place. As the previous post said, virtual desktops are helpful in organizing "sets" of windows, and this is pretty much more of the same. With or without virtual desktops, this notion of "sets of windows" actually seems to be one that should be pretty fundamental to window management (because windows almost always belong in some conceptual set, because you only use it together with these other windows), and yet, I don’t know of any OS or window manager which actually supports this very well. Ideas? 🙂

    By the way, one thing that absolutely drive me nuts in window management on Windows is the absurd focus and modality rules.

    First, the focus. Hands up, those who have *not* missed important (probably) messages from some application or other, because it popped up in the middle of the screen as you were typing. You hit space (because you were typing), and it takes that as a click on ‘ok’, and continues, and you didn’t even get to see the message. What the hell did I just approve?

    Another, equally ridiculous issue is that even the simple modal dialogs will prevent the computer from shutting down (At least in XP, I don’t know if this has been fixed in Vista). Open Notepad, type a couple of letters without saving, and try to close your computer. It’ll ask you if you want to save the document (which is a reasonable question), but if you don’t answer, it’ll hang there forever (which is not reasonable).

    Imagine I’m in a bit of a hurry, I tell my laptop to shut down, close the lid, and stuff it in my bag. 6 hours later, I take it up, to realize that it’s been running at full speed this whole time. Boiling temperature? Check. Hardware damage? Perhaps. (Windows update is guilty of something similar, with its ridiculous notion that it should be allowed to wake up the computer)

  59. says:

    I read about your ideas of Multimonitoring Support in 7…you say that you have 2 options:

    – The Taskbar over all Screens

    – 1 Taskbar for each screen

    I think the 2 will be the best option. Every Taskbar is somethink like a single OS GUI…if you open a programm it will just apear on this screen and only on this taskbar…if you move now the window from this screen to an other, the programm will disapear from the taskbar and show up on the screen you move the window on…also you do this with try icons…

  60. Knipoog says:

    "There’s a lot of great discussion from the window arranging post.  This really shows how important these details are to people."

    Please open a topic about WHAT the contence of an operating system should be.

    THAT would realy show how important THAT is 😉

    Or better ask us what we DON’T want in an operating system (things like: mailprogram, Browser, Mediaplayer, Paint 😉 etc)

    Regards Knipoog

  61. Walter M. says:

    First, thanks for the great blog! It’s great to have a place to rant and rave. I just want to throw my vote in with mikejng and Ted Howard. Focus stealing is the single most annoying glitch I’ve come across, and it’s the quickest way to take me from productive work to raging frustration. A few seconds of repeated focus stealing, capped with a mis-click, completely interrupts my thought process. Remember how bad pop-ups used to be? MS blocked those through IE, how is focus stealing any different? The windows should adapt to the user’s way of doing things, what they are intending or attempting to accomplish. If they switch applications, surely they have a reason.

  62. caywen says:

    Here’s a simple solution for Microsoft: Bundle StarDock’s ObjectDock.

  63. RuslanUrban says:

    Some people most likely already had some exposure to Microsoft’s own product – Visual Studio. It already has a great mechanism for managing many windows at the same time. The key features there are: docking (with docking placeholders), pinning and auto-hiding. I wonder if Microsoft is considering implementing this mechanism in Windows. A virtual desktop can be the hosting window with its own task bar. And, the task bar can contain a Windows menu icon (e.g. tile, stack, minimize or hide all, reset, allow/disable docking). The reset should disable docking and restore default positions and sizes of windows, if these have been persisted through Windows (may be necessary to troubleshoot issues). All the windows will need a pin button when they are docked, and a pin menu (e.g. hide, show). There would be no need to display window shortcut in the task bar as it should be always visible in the docking bar. However, a few questions arise. How docked and non-docked windows should behave? Shall Windows disallow having non-docking windows in the docking mode? How about windows that have minimum and/or maximum size enforced?

    Currently, there are probably many applications that would not be fully capable of being docked, but if the docking become standard, this would change with time.

    I would be glad if this idea became true. It would make me want to have such OS just because of the increase in productivity it may offer.

  64. ecofriend says:

    What would be cool would be features that are found in the Xneat Windows Manager ( One I absolutely cannot do without is the "Always on top" option, which, as the name suggests,  keeps a particular window on top of other windows at all times.

  65. RuslanUrban says:

    A suggestion.

    When a program pops up a modal dialog, do not bring it up above all other windows, but make the program flash in the task bar (or change color, animate, etc). This can resolve many complains.

  66. marcinw says:

    I’m looking into all these comments and I can agree with people writing, that WIndows 7 will be another Vista. I started to create own blog (see URL), which will comment some things put here by Microsoft and people…simply because we don’t have here more "problematic" topics.

  67. simmans says:

    I agree Windows 7 will be another Vista, like XP is like 2000, like 98 is like…  well it doesn’t mean anything, new cars still have 4 wheels and an engine…

    My opinion is the next Windows will be better than Vista, and even more if there is more API for customizing the desktop. The lack of customization will make Windows 7 one of worst OS because everyone want to design their desktop how they want.

    There is a lot of propositions about how the taskbar and windows (and focus) supposed to react. With APIs, YOU decide how it react, that’s all.

  68. VistaLover says:

    Some things I’d like to see in Windows 7:

    1. More Aero.  Make cmd.exe/powershell (i.e. console windows), wmplayer, explorer, like the ‘add gadgets’ window so that they are all glass. Glass is nice, but it’s hardly used. At least an option for this would be nice.

    2. Make IE so that instead of making it so that all active-x are blocked for a zone, make it configurable so that you can block some active-x plug-ins but not others.  For instance, silverlight could run on the internet zone but not flash. I have a game (ea crysis download manager) that requires active-x in the internet zone, and setting active-x to disabled or even prompt in the internet zone causes the app to abort, but I hate running with active-x in the internet on because flash has so many exploits and doesn’t run in low integrity level like IE.

    3. There is an annoying bug in WMPlayer where if you add .mkv/.mp4 videos to your library and play them from the library the seek bar is stuck at 0 and you can’t fast forward or rewind, this bug disappear if you play the files from explorer.

    Thanks if you would consider these.

  69. zhackwyatt says:

    I think Expose is amazing.  The usefulness does decrease after a certain number of windows open, but flip 3D is even more unuseful.  Alt tab is better because you can bring up the menu and then click on an application, you don’t have to go in any particular order.  You can do this with Flip 3D as well but not w/ a large set of windows.  I prefer to see all three options on the computer and let me choose which ones is best at the moment.

  70. faramond says:

    Please give us keyboard shortcuts for EVERYTHING! I have to echo the above comments–window management, *especially* panes and the new HTML-based configuration pages, is nearly impossible with the keyboard.

    Why not take a fundamental look at the assignment of shortcuts in all of Windows? The goal should be make everything as keyboard-accessible as possible. That means:

    1. giving everything a shortcut

    2. making those shortcuts easy to remember and use

    There’s so much potential. Look at the ribbon in Office! Look at the unused F-keys in Explorer and Internet Explorer! Look at the single-key shortcuts in Opera and Winamp!

    This isn’t only an issue for power users. The relative keyboard-friendliness of Windows is the #1 reason why I use it and not a Mac. I suffer from carpal tunnel. I have to use shortcuts. And I’m not alone: at my workplace, nearly 40% of employees are experiencing symptoms of severe RSI. It’s a looming productivity and insurance disaster, but what can we do? WE can’t design Windows to be accessible. Only Microsoft can. So please do it! If Windows 7 can improves keyboard accessibility even modestly, it will make a huge difference to our health, happiness, and bottom line.

  71. says:

    Virtual desktops again are a good idea. I recently started using VirtuaWin v4.0. While it doesn’t do everything as I want or how I want (and I haven’t had time to write my own mod to fix these issues) it has made life a lot easier when managing several projects at once. Building the windows management with virtual desktops and the ability for 3rd parties to create their own solutions would be a win-win situation from my perspective.

  72. says:

    i just want my windows media center become gadget.. run in small window on the right

    playing music and slideShow

    btw…when we will move to 3D space ?


    Managing Windows On 3D Space

  73. Knipoog says:


    IE and Mediaplayer should NOT be part of the operating system, and can therefore remain outside this discussion 😉

  74. says:


    Yes i hope for a Windows Live Browser and Windows Live Media Player or somehing…and a remove of the browser and the media player from the os…every software should be Live and not in the OS

  75. daveshax says:

    There are a couple of window management features I think might be useful, if you can throw them into the melting pot.

    1 – Snapping window edges – Holding down CTRL while resizing a window makes the edges snap to the edges of the screen or any other windows that are open.

    2 – Stitched edges – When one window edge has snapped to another, those edges resize at the same time. This would be paired really well with ‘show windows side by side’, especially on widescreen computers.

    3 – Some kind of ‘Auto Arrange’ for windows. An toggle state that manages the size of the window. If it was the only window available, it would be maximised. If another window was opened, the first one resizes and they take half the space each (with a stitched edge so you can change the ratio).

  76. lyesmith says:

    "IE and Mediaplayer should NOT be part of the operating system, and can therefore remain outside this discussion ;-)"

    How will you download Firefox if there is no browser in the package at the first place?

  77. GRiNSER says:

    Enhancements to Window Management should also be made in the dev division for libraries like .NET and all the others because stuff like multimonitor support has to be done mostly by the dev instead of a standardized framework…

  78. says:

    Add an easy way for work with glass to the .NET Freamwork so we can build apps they look bether on Vista and will look better on 7

  79. Knipoog says:


    You don’t download Firefox, you just install Opera from you’re memory stick 😉

  80. Knipoog says:


    "every software should be Live and not in the OS"

    As long as it is not in the OS its OK. Then you have a choice, you will probably choose Live, I might choose something else 😉

  81. yeehaamcgee says:

    The trouble with removing media player from the OS is that things like live preview of files depend on it, so that functionality would have to be removed.

    I have to say though, that I’ve found media center is the most impressive part of Vista for me, as I’d never seen it in action before.

  82. Knipoog says:


    Its OK if the functionality of preview of files depends on another piece of software.

    You can’t vieuw movies if you don’t have the program for it 🙂

    If that other piece of software is no part of the OS, other parties will perhaps make things you like. That can be onde program like for example medioplayer, but that can also be two programs. One for playing movies and one with wich you can Preview-files. imo thos programs can easily be different programs.

    But I hope that Microsoft will write an separate article about what to put in W7, and than we can blog and discuss there?

    Regards Knipoog

  83. marcinw says:

    > I agree Windows 7 will be another Vista,

    > like XP is like 2000, like 98 is like…  

    > well it doesn’t mean anything, new cars

    > still have 4 wheels and an engine…

    each technology is going to be obsolete in some moment. 95 was build in "a little" other architecture than 3.11, NT was different than 9x. People don’t like Vista. Do you think, that another system built on it will be really (much) better ?

    > "IE and Mediaplayer should NOT be part

    > of the operating system, and can therefore

    > remain outside this discussion ;-)"

    > How will you download Firefox if there is

    > no browser in the package at the first place?

    Mediaplayer and IE can be installed by default and available from box, but they should be separated from "real" OS parts (they will be treat like normal apps). if it will be done, many problems will be automatically removed…

  84. marcinw says:

    > The trouble with removing media player from

    > the OS is that things like live preview of

    > files depend on it, so that functionality

    > would have to be removed.

    Windows directory = kernel, drivers, runtimes for various types of applications. Not available for ordinary apps.

    Program files = explorer, IE, Media Player (can use from some runtime components for displaying some media), etc. Each application separated from each other.

    Nobody speak about removing some functionality, only about making visible borders and adding security on more levels (for example IE can’t modify explorer or kernel, etc.).

  85. VistaLover says:

    Another thing I’d like to see in Windows 7; Please allow changing the color of the taskbar and start menu glass and the windows start orb. Different colors like a black start orb and white taskbar and start menu and so on would look real nice. (I posted this before but it never got posted so I’m posting again.)

  86. IMaReallyBigFish says:

    One thing that disappointed me with Explorer (starting with Windows 95) was that you removed the split pane windows.  I remember with Windows 3.11 I was VERY effective & fast moving files around with two split pane windows.  It’s definitely the reason why tools like TotalCommander (shareware file management tool) still exist and get high ratings on reviews.

    Also, with the whole MDI vs SDI debate, I really wish SDI was still an option with all your development tools.  I’d rather have 5 windows all in front of me, 2 being different windows (of code) in Visual Studio, 2 being different pages in SQL Server Studio, and one browser.  All Open.  All Visible.  Being able to have that many (or a LOT more) windows open and today’s large 20+ inch montitors would be great.  It would be much more productive than having to Alt-Tab, Ctrl-Tab all day long.

    I’ve got a co-worker that uses dual monitors, maximizes Visual Studio across both, and still uses the Tabbed layout.  It looks horrendous as far as UI Window management.

  87. Miek says:

    I tried a few of the virtual desktop programs mentioned in this blog. With all of them I get the idea that it is some kind of trick and not properly supported by the OS. Many programs pops up windows on other desktops than they reside on. If you launch a program , you have to wait for it to fully open before switching to another desktop, otherwise it ends up on the wrong desktop etc.

    But I must say, I liked the concept and is using it now, it is great. Hopefully better API will be added in 7 to help 3d party tools do a better job, or even better, it will be part of the 7.

  88. mark_ms says:

    Try this link. Microsoft Research has already studied ways to improve the experience when working with large displays and multi-monitor configurations. Most of our suggestions get a mention here.

  89. ups says:

    "@Aengeln suggests taking the basic idea of tiled windows to the next level in order to make them really useful:

       A very useful feature would be the ability to split the deskotop into separate portions, especially on larger screens.  For example, I might want to maximize my Messenger window to a small part on the right hand side of the desktop and still have the ability to maximize other windows into the remaing space. Non-maximized windows would be able to float across both (all) parts of the desktop."

    I would like to support this feature. While widescreens are getting more common, I still consider them unfriendly since they don’t provide a good working area for maximized windows (text becomes to wide to read).

  90. Justin Carter says:

    I wish I had seen these blog posts sooner, I have some great feedback about how I work and about a new feature idea for focusing on the window(s) you are currently using.

    First about window management: It would be nice if Windows had a configurable cascading direction when new windows open. When I work, I typically arrange my windows so that the upper left corner of a window is *always* visible. For e.g. while doing web development work, Explorer is in the bottom left of the screen, to the right are various browsers cascaded up and to the right, and on the far right of the screen filling the whole height is Eclipse where I do most of my work. This means that in a small target area of the top left quadrant of the screen I can single click on any open application to switch to it quickly and easily. When windows open and cascade down and to the right I always have to move the window so that part of it will be visible behind other windows, because the right edge or bottom edge of the window is useless to me! Cascading up and to the right is much more effective 🙂 (Though I have to be honest, it’s usually Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer that I’m pushing around because I’m more likely to have multiples of them open – sometimes on different desktops, but I’ll get to that below).


  91. Justin Carter says:

    Second, about virtual desktops: we *really* need a solution to manage groups of applications. At the moment I use DeskSpace for virtual desktop management, and while it has a few small bugs occasionally it works great on the whole – I can’t live without it now. I simply use 2 virtual desktops, the first for email and general browsing and other tasks (shortcut key: Win+Q) and the second desktop for development work (shortcut key: Win+W). I can quickly switch between desktops and have a clutter free work environment (otherwise I’d constantly have 12+ windows open all on the one desktop – not cool!). Windows 7 *definitely* needs to address virtual desktops.

    Lastly, but most importantly is an idea I had on focusing on the task or window(s) that you are currently working in. I actually wrote a blog post on it yesterday, which seems like convenient timing 🙂


  92. Justin Carter says:

    The basic idea is that you could have a "window shroud" that uses a dark transparency to mask the parts of the screen that you aren’t using at the time, letting you focus more clearly on the task at hand. This is a similar effect to Lightbox.JS (and others), or the Vista Secure Desktop. Maximising windows isn’t a good solution for "focusing" because sometimes you need to change windows quickly, and moving the mouse all the way down to the taskbar sometimes isn’t feasible – windowed applications can be managed much more easily. The post goes into a good amount of detail about how it would work, including some configuration options for the opacity level and a dynamic opacity level based on mouse events, as well as support for having multiple windows above the shroud and stuff like that. I’ve given this a test with a "dumb" AIR app and it was refreshing to work with such clarity, but obviously without all the necessary smarts built-in to the product it requires an extra click every time you change windows, and I’m all for productivity gains not losses!

    I’d really like to hear what people think about the idea, because it’s a feature I’d really like to have. Feel free to make comments on my blog 🙂 (That includes you, MSFT’ies!) Or comment here, I don’t mind checking back.

    Anyway, I also wanted to say it’s great seeing things like this somewhat open to discussion. I really hope it makes a difference so that Windows 7 rocks.



  93. shadowmoose says:

    One thing about managing windows I’ve found out is that it’s great to have two screens.  However on say my laptop I simply don’t have that option and with a lot of people they simply don’t have two monitors to hook up to the same computer to begin with.

    I’ve noticed in certain linux distros they have the ability to have to desktop spaces that you can use a hotkey to switch back and forth between and it’s almost like having twice the desktop space.

    I really like that feature because I can have two things open and not worry about alt tabing to the right window when I know i have it up on my other workspace.  I’d love to see something like that adopted to windows in some way.

  94. mccabe says:

    In Vista, the right click context menu breaks. A lot. When it does, you find yourself keeping a lot more windows open than you should. For example, I have nine explorer windows open right now, one solely for dragging and dropping music, as right click > add to media playlist doesn’t work in many cases.

    I keep several program setting windows open because it’s easier just to always keep the explorer window open then go up one directory, right click, send to desktop as shortcut, then wait for Vista to hang while it tries to show the desktop.

    I keep several downloaded file directories open because I frequently need access to those directories. Again, it’s faster for my workflow to just keep the folders open and switch back and forth through the course of my day.

    I keep one window open for the program I’m working on, and several other windows for source directories related to that program. Generally, I’ll copy the location, use the Computer shortcut to open a new instance, then paste the location in. It’s faster for me to switch via the taskbar than it is to remember all the history in back/forward, or repeatedly switch directories manually.

    I *love* the new windows explorer in Vista (my favorite part of the OS).

    I *hate* not being able to expand groups in the taskbar. There are times when I only have two windows grouped together and it’s frustrating to try to remember what has focus and what doesn’t; the extra click feels very unnecessary, especially when I need to view both programs/directories side by side for easy switching (note that I like the grouping feature and don’t want to disable it. I just want to have better control over how I manage my taskbar programs).

    I *hate* how some folders have a "new folder" icon and some don’t. This inconsistency is always jarring.

    I *hate* even more how difficult it is to move files between folders. The Vista copy/paste options are great (have been loving them in firefox for years) but there is very right clickable space in folders now, particularly for the detailed list view, which is the one I use most. Oftentimes, both when dragging or right click copy/pasting, I’ll inadvertently send a folder to the wrong directory.

    Likewise, I hate having to drag multiple windows around when I want to view content in more than one window at once. I can’t use tile or since I generally have many windows open, and cascade ruins my window positions, which are usually assigned to a specific area of screenspace while I multitask.

    I would *love more than anything* to have a tabbed windows explorer, with the tabs functioning much as they do in Google Chrome (draggable into new windows).

  95. says:

    "I would *love more than anything* to have a tabbed windows explorer, with the tabs functioning much as they do in Google Chrome (draggable into new windows)."

    I think we do that all…i hope that also the taskbar will work like tabs…

  96. daveshax says:

    A follow-up to my earlier post (Wednesday, October 08, 2008 6:17 AM):

    4 – Auto-fill available space – Similar to snapping edges. Holding CTRL while moving a window causes a red box to jump around the screen (based on where the mouse is), suggesting what size the window should be when you release the mouse.

    ie, if there are no other windows open, the red box suggests the window you’re moving should take up the whole screen. If one window already exists taking up roughly half the screen, press CTRL and the red box jumps to the empty half, suggesting the window you’re moving should take up that available space.

  97. Mantvydas says:

    Windows could be more friendlier when I need to attach files to an e-mail message, to a sharepoint server, to a website…

    Imagine I have just finished working on an Excel file, and it is still open.

    Normally, I need to save it somewhere to a filesystem, and then I need to go to my e-mail message, sharepoint site or a website and click browse, browse tiringly to a place where I saved my file, and then attach.

    Wouldn’t be much easier in Excel to press a "similar to save" button, which asks which open window I want to choose my file to go to. If I chose an e-mail message window, it would attach to it, if I chose an internet browser window, it would try attaching to it – no need for that file system.

  98. Computermensch says:

    You should look less at what you can easily provide like the bullet pointed list above. I do understand that this probably needs to be provided for release around 2009. However, for Windows as a productivity system (competing with contender Linux) you need to lead the way or have Windows develop into a contender even though this has not happened yet. You wrote so yourself that the taskbar was an old concept from Windows 95. We can add the taskbar is mainly concerned with window functionality and less with workflow. So you should not add to that – but allow the taskbar to change – at least for productive users. If you provide new APIs for that it would be great. This will be clear soon. At least the PDC have some indications that you may actually be providing that. So that job could be delegated to application developers to address specific flows. For consumers, well its a different and you could probably just almost remove the taskbar. Anyway, when it is there consumers will be concerned with its looks.

    But finally, important to lead the way beyond "taskbar is about apps" (wrong reflection of a kind-of-task concept today). Its more than that … so prepare for a new layer in your architecture. Hope to see some reference solution for that kind of behaviour in the new APIs.

  99. Asesh says:

    When installing Vista, we Vista’s Aero like interface but rather bitmaps. It’s much better than Vista’s sick basic theme. So it would be better if basic themes were like that.

  100. Asesh says:

    *Mistake: When installing Vista, we see Vista’s Aero like interface (dialog box) but rather bitmaps. It’s much better than Vista’s sick basic theme. So it would be better if basic themes were like that.

  101. gonzc900 says:

    Well yes, vista home basic has aero with out transparency, that should be the aero basic.

    Also whats the deal with the windows 98 theme being in vista? Hope this is removed. the 2000 one is all you really need.

    Better yet, ditch the 2000 theme and develop a new modern them that doesn’t have all the eye candy for pro users.

  102. says:

    One of the things that I really like about *nix, is the multiple workspace options..

    OS X has done a great job of nicking this feature and making it work..

    I’d really like to be able to compartmentalize my windows desktop, into email and browser (workspace 1), coding, compiling and testing output (workspace 2) and whatever else I wanted with the additional workspaces, maybe chat (workspace 3) and whatever else..

    I personally have an issue with concentration when all these things are open and operating on my single/linear windows desktop..

    If I’m trying to concentrate and get some work done, I’d prefer to wait till I check in with workspace 1 to reply to that *urgent* email as it alerts me in the taskbar 🙂

    The rotating workspace experience could potentially be great through Aero!

  103. jbt00000 says:

    A few random musings…  These may have already been covered. Too many comments for me to plow through, but you have a zillion PMs.  So here you go:

    – Don’t even let a popup from another app steal my focus.  This happens all the time, if you are busy typing, you lose work.  If a background app wants focus w/o direct user interaction (including on startup), it should simply flash in the taskbar.

    – If an app has a modal popup, it should still minimize if you hit Windows-M.  Otherwise it is too hard to get to your desktop.

    – Alt-Tab should work.  The order of the windows should remain constant (unless you allow the user to re-order).  Right now once you de-activate a window it goes in some strange place.  I typically have 30 windows open, but alt-tab between 2 going back and forth, the current model makes this very difficult.  I don’t care what you do in the ridiculous ctrl-tab model… Fix the alt-tab.

  104. says:

    The killer feature for me would be a Mac OS X Spaces like feature.  Maybe brand it like Windows Scenes or something.  A cool 3D cube effect would make it shine.  Also, if you dragged an application to an edge of the screen, the cube would appear and you could drag it where ever you want it.  That would be awesome!

  105. Justin Carter says:

    @RyGuy12: You should give DeskSpace a try, it works pretty much exactly like that! Though I agree an OS-integrated virtual desktop environment would be nicer / more reliable.

  106. DicE says:

    Don’t really know if this is the proper place to make a request for Windows 7, but if I read the blog, it seems you really want to make an effort 😉

    this is what I would really like to see in the next version of windows. It’s an enhancement to the copy dialogue. If for example I need to copy 2 big files from 2 different folders to the same destination folder, I would like it to be possible to start copy of the first file and then go to the next folder, and drag the second file on top of the copy dialog which would then queue that file to the copy process with the same destination.

    Am I making any sence? Hope you know what I mean. I just hate it that I see the speed of both copy commands fall down, because I have 2 copy commands running at the same time. Both files have to go to the same destination folder so why isn’t it possible to just drop extra files on an already in progress copy dialog window and just have those files also copied to the same destination folder as the first selected file…?

    should be that hard I think…

    thanks for concidering it though!


  107. Thack says:

    I really hope the team will consider these three VERY simple things which would make my life with Windows much easier.  


    I’m often working on two documents at once, in different windows.  For example, Word in one window, and my research material in another (IE7, or whatever).  I frequently want to scroll these windows up and down.

    At the moment I have to:

    a/ move the mouse over the window I want to scroll;

    b/ click on it, TAKING CARE to avoid any active areas, such as buttons, icons, etc;

    c/ roll the mouse wheel

    It would be so much better if I could just:

    a/ move the mouse over the window

    b/ roll the mouse wheel

    The first "step" of the wheel would activate the window, the subsequent ones would scroll it.  This would be BRILLIANT.

    (I’ve tried the "activate on hover" option hidden away in Vista, but it leads to complete chaos in normal use.)


    When I open Explorer, I nearly always intend to move or copy some files around, so I want a source window and a destination window.  It’s such a drag having to use the start menu twice to open two windows.  ESPECIALLY when try to open two Explorer windows on ‘Documents’ (say) and find you can’t!

    Please give us single click way of opening two windows at once (or perhaps an optional two-pane view in Explorer).


    This is a shameless steal from Directory Opus.  I’d like double clicking anywhere on the desktop to open up Explorer.  If you haven’t tried Directory Opus you probably won’t appreciate what I’m talking about.  If you have, you will realise it’s simply brilliant.  If you have two monitors, Directory Opus opens in the one you double-clicked in.

    Directory Opus is far too scary for the average user, though, whereas Explorer is beautifully simple.  This request would allow an ultra-fast way of opening Explorer.

    (Combined with 2/ above, so you get a double Explorer window if you choose, would be perfect).

    Is there any chance the team would consider these three suggestions?  I’ve deliberately chosen three which I believe would be fairly straightforward to program.



  108. dstgroup says:

    I’m yet another person who HATES apps stealing focus. The fact that the button on the task bar flashes is plenty enough indication for anyone to know that an app needs attention. At the very least, a user setting that allows you to shut off focus stealing is not that hard to do, but REQUIRES changes to the windows API itself. That pretty much makes it hard to do as a third party extension (as mentioned elsewhere). Off the top of my head I think it would involve API Hooking and that is inherently unreliable. And you do want a reliable system right?

    Here’s another one. I’m navigating in Windows Explorer and accidentally click on the floppy drive. Now I have to wait 30sec for it to time out, and then pop up a window saying to insert a disc. Please do us all a favor and just have the information displayed in the files pane instead. There is no reason why clicking on OK is necessary…

    As many users have pointed out, instead of wondering why users didn’t embrace the eye-candy of Vista, implement some truly useful EVERYDAY features and the users will come flocking.

  109. says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, too many comments to read them all, but how about a preview of the running application (without losing focus of current application) by hovering over the taskbar item.

    For example, I have the following apps running (keeping it simple):


    Live Messenger

    Engineering Windows (IE)

    and IE has focus.  I should be able to hover over the "Outlook" taskbar item and see a preview of "Outlook", like the 3D flip.  Title captions are not very useful.

    If it’s a grouped set of IE, the group should expand (without taking focus) so I can hover over the list of running instances of IE and see a preview of what I’m looking for.

    I’m not sure what the implication of this is but it would definitely help when hunting for a particular running app/window.

    Basically, the taskbar "previews" on hover and only takes focus/activate when user actively clicks it.

  110. apower says:

    I have a specific gripe with Windows Explorer.

    There needs to be a way to set a default window size for *all* explorer windows. Vista’s default explorer window size is abominable — it’s simply too small to use for browsing folders that contain lots of objects (particularly with Vista’s defualt view using largish icons), so I end up wasting my time resizing lots of folders.

    I’m not saying folders shouldn’t remember their size from when they were closed — I want my folders to remember their previously used size. I just also want the option to reset all folders to open at the same size, the same way I can reset the view on all folders by using the "Apply to Folders" button in the View tab of the Folder Options dialog.

    Resizing folders is a only little thing, but it can be truly annoying. It frustrates my experience and interrupts my workflow.

  111. Scott LYP says:

    Wow it is great to see all the feedback has been taken to heart. I am try Widows 7 now and as a photographer the improvments really help my workflow!

  112. anotherjohnboy says:

    At home, my notebook is connected to two external displays: A desktop TFT and a tv set. I use to extend the desktop to the TV.

    One feature I really really miss is something like "Send to display X". Since I do not always have the second display in sight. (Either because it’s turned of or because it’s not in my field of view.) Right-clicking a window thumbnail and selecting "Send to Display 1" would have helped me so many times. Instead, I have to either try to grab the Window from the second display "blindly". (Firefox uses to open maximized on the 2nd screen.) Or I select "Move" from the window context menu. For that to work I have to first use the keyboard cursor keys to move it a bit. THEN finally I am able to move the window over by mouse motion. For some reason, move by mouse is initially disabled.

  113. DexSK says:

    Hi there, people…first I’d like to thank you all for the fine piece of software you are putting together, I admit I was one of the BIG mass of concerned people around various lapses and not-so-good expressions judging MS products and the company as a whole, I used to say "sorry to be Microsoft,cause there’s nothing better out there"…I’m simply impressed on what you did so far with Win 7. Good work, people (finally:o)). Now, for the actual little "comment". I couldn’t find a suitable blog post to put it in, so I picked this one, flagged "Shell". Already on Vista I have noticed that the desktop icon size jumped up considerably, and I have a hard time getting used to that, actually I didn’t ever get used to it completely. I would like you to include something like "icon size settings" into the display customizations, I know it is possible, I got my Win XP desktop "vistaized" with icons XP size, but looking Vista. I posted a wish on (Windows Vienna forums, wishlist topic) describing it a bit in-depth. Didn’t get a "valid" response from a MS Developer on it, just a "good idea" response…and would like to know how this idea stands now :-)). Keep up the good work,people…and change that icon size, it really annoys me =)))

  114. tom-carpal-nicholson says:

    @ faramond

    Two thumbs up to your suggestion. It would really be very convenient if the Windows would provide keyboard shortcuts especially for those who uses laptop and who travels. Less usage of mouse, less hassle while travelling, less chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome (althought i have read an article that say there is a little clinical data to prove this one). And also provide guides for these shortcuts that everyone would know about it. I know many people who uses windows for so many years but have no idea about the present keyboard shorcuts.

    @ lyesmith

    shortcut for renaming is F2 🙂

  115. tom-carpal-nicholson says:

    I like Windows because i find it more user friendy that other OS. But my problem is windows is really prone to virus eventhough i keep my anti-virus updated. I think it would be better if the next Windows is more protected and secure. This is just an addition to my previous suggestion of Windows having a keyboard shortcuts and guide to keyboard shortcuts for everybody to know.

  116. houseoflot says:

    Ten years ago, when I was still in college, my mouse broke down and I was really pissed off but i need to continue working on our computer laboratory with that PC assigned to me, so I tried to discover each keyboard shortcut in Windows e.g. the Start button (Ctrl+Esc), how to switch from application to application (Alt+Tab, Shift+Alt+Tab), Rename a file (F2), Close a Window (Alt+F4), Close an open document in Office Apps (Ctrl+F4). We were using Windows 95 at that time and it really is handy and make my development very much faster. I can sometimes execute a command without looking at the monitor. I hope more keyboard shortcuts that are easy to familiarize will be added and i hope those shortcuts will make Windows experience more efficient rather than make it worse.

  117. cirurgia plastica says:

    it’s extremally annoying for the ones which uses the projector. after changing the resolution all window sizes are made small to fit it. then you need to resize all the window to your size… more over – windows sometimes forgets that you disconnected the device and changes resoultion for some test or something… grrr

    and the solution is so simple: keep the window sizes as percentage. layouts are well known in java and .net languages – so it’s dynamic and auto-adjustable for the screen size. y don’t give such a possibilty for system windows?

    another idea is to keep few window sizes so each resolution has it parameter.

    …at last the easies way would be some option to disable auto-window-resize – easy and effective.

  118. Auto Windows Maximization is Annoying says:

    Auto Windows Maximization is Annoying. Every time I move my window close to the top of the screen it auto maximizes, even though I don't want it to. I'm used to moving windows around the screen without maximizing them. Damn annoying !!!

  119. bartman2589 says:


  120. bartman2589 says: